Woman with hands to her ears in pain wondering when the ringing in her ears will stop.

You could have a typical reaction when you first hear that ringing in your ears: pretend everything’s good. You continue your regular routines: you do your grocery shopping, you cook dinner, you attempt to have a conversation with your friends. In the meantime, you’re trying to force that ringing in your ear to the back of your mind. Because there is one thing you feel certain about: your tinnitus will go away by itself.

You begin to worry, though, when after a few days the buzzing and ringing is unrelenting.

You’re not the only one to ever be in this situation. Tinnitus can be a tricky little condition, at times it will go away by itself and sometimes, it will stick around for a long time to come.

When Tinnitus is Likely to Vanish by Itself

Tinnitus is extremely common around the world, nearly everyone’s had a bout every now and then. In virtually all cases, tinnitus is basically temporary and will eventually go away by itself. A rock concert is an excellent illustration: you go see Bruce Springsteen at your local stadium (it’s a good show) and when you go home, you realize that there is ringing in your ears.

Within a few days the kind of tinnitus associated with injury from loud noise will commonly disappear (and you chalk it up to the cost of seeing your favorite band on stage).

Of course, it’s precisely this kind of noise injury that, over time, can cause hearing loss to move from temporary (or acute, as they say) to chronic. One concert too many and you may be waiting quite a while for your tinnitus to subside by itself.

When Tinnitus Doesn’t Seem to be Disappearing by Itself

If your tinnitus doesn’t diminish (either on its own or with help) within the period of three months or so, the disorder is then classified chronic tinnitus (this does not, however, suggest that you should wait that long to consult with a specialist about lingering thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears).

Something like 5-15% of people around the world have recorded indications of chronic tinnitus. While there are some known close associations (like hearing loss, for instance), the causes of tinnitus aren’t yet very well comprehended.

When the causes of your tinnitus aren’t clear, it often means that a fast “cure” will be unidentifiable. If your ears have been buzzing for over three months and there’s no discernible cause, there’s a strong chance that the sound will not go away on its own. In those situations, there are treatment options available (like cognitive behavioral therapy or noise-canceling devices) that can help you deal with symptoms and protect your quality of life.

The Reason For Your Tinnitus is Significant

When you can establish the root cause of your tinnitus, mitigating the condition suddenly becomes a lot simpler. As an example, if your tinnitus is created by a stubborn, bacterial ear infection, treatment with an antibiotic will tend to solve both problems, bringing about a healthy ear and clear hearing.

Here are some potential causes of acute tinnitus:

  • Chronic ear infections
  • Hearing loss (again, this is often associated with chronic tinnitus)
  • Meniere’s disease (this usually has no cure and is often associated with chronic tinnitus)
  • Damage to the eardrum (such as a perforated eardrum)
  • A blockage in the ear or ear canal

The Big Question…Will my Tinnitus Ever go Away?

In general, your tinnitus will subside by itself. But the longer it hangs around, the longer you hear reverberations or humming or whatever the sound happens to be, the more likely it becomes that you’re coping with chronic tinnitus.

You can convince yourself there’s nothing wrong and hope that the noises will simply stop. But there may come a point where your tinnitus begins to become irritating, where it’s tough to focus because the sound is too disruptive. And in those situations, you may want a treatment strategy more thorough than crossing your fingers.

Most of the time tinnitus is just the body’s answer to loud noise that may be damaging over time and will go away on its own. Whether that’s chronic or acute tinnitus, well, only time will tell.